The OPM and Ministry of Finance.

By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press

All of The Bahamas, at one time or another, and for one reason or another needs New Providence. Citizens and taxpayers, passing through on business; residents and tax payers bound to the town; and Central government standing in holistic administration should expect and experience a clean healthy capital city; a viable and dynamic one.

It can be a city that, though it may not be a shining one on a hill, would be a place that instills pride and offer an ambience that is as attractive, as it is welcoming to all who pass through its portals. In view of the sorry state of affairs today of the management of the once pristine city, it is time that Central Government take decisive action and move forward with a rescue plan to bailout the overwhelmed city and its besieged stewards.

Take a look at the streets, the atmospherics, and the attitudes prevalent and it becomes clear that there is trouble all over. Take a closer look at the Central Government’s management itself, and across the board it is the same dispiriting story: no care, no effort, no clue, and no answers.

Thus, a city suffers while the big cats and fat cats purr contentedly, as if all was well. Well, according to them in their arrogance and disdain, all is well. And thus, there has been one excuse and subterfuge and embarrassment after another to mask a litany of weaknesses and chronic mismanagement.

The enduring excesses and errors–egregious failures all–hurt the image, the welfare, and the future of this once proud city. Central Government has to put a stop to the mischief and overhang that now cripples the functioning of that management team. Central government has to act and act now.

Right now, the Central Government needs money to run the most basic of services, to honor past and accumulating obligations. The city needs money and lots of it immediately. At a quick rough approximation, the Central Government is up to its eyeballs in debt.

It does not matter, currently, how matters got to this terrible state; that will come later with official triages, post mortems and all the usual activities that surround the near-death experience of an entity. But the city must not be allowed to collapse under the now unbearable weight of its mountain of liabilities.

Each succeeding day only adds exponentially to the financial agony of its officers and managers, who are now reduced to silent, helpless bystanders. The Central Government has to step up to the patient and infuse it with several hundred million dollars of life-giving funding.

In short, a bailout is called for at this time. It is a dirty word, and an expensive one, too. It is made dirtier and heavier and unforgivable by the cast of characters, who infest its corridors and ran the place into the ground and raises the hackles by the distortions of their presence and pretended innocence. Too much is at stake: workers’ welfare, citizens’ wellbeing, and the reputation of the country.

In addition, there are the hard, quantitative issues of huge sums due to the National Insurance Board and foreign agencies, to name a few of the bigger creditors owed.
While, the National Insurance Board could be prevailed upon to consent to an arrangement for a suspension or moratorium on payments due, we dare not approach our foreign creditors for any similar undertaking, because of the immeasurable damage such a move will do to our reputation abroad.

This is where things are reduced to right now: keep things going. As much as there may be tremendous distaste in some circles for throwing good money after a bad situation–some would say dirty setup–this has to be done. And it has to be done soon.

Happy New Year Bahamas!


Jerry Roker